Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A little late to the party, but I made good progress this week!

Even though I'm late joining Bonnie's linky-thingie, I'm pleased with my progress on my Orca Bay mystery quilt.  I had 4 days off with Christmas and Boxing Day, and I managed to get some sewing in every single day, plus this evening after work.  I only completed one block for Step 6:

Each week, I do at least one unit of the step so I can check for mistakes.  I really couldn't do more on this step, because I still had to finish Step 1, but I got that done on Saturday:

All 224 plus about 10 extra - I didn't think I cut that many extra!

Then I was able to sew up the rows for Step One's block.  First I cut the 56 red blocks and assembled the middle row, chain-piecing all the way:

I didn't get much done on Christmas Day, because I got to spend the day with these little sweeties. 

Zoey is now sitting up on her own, so she was able to enjoy her new toys!  Big cousin Alex loved showing her what to do with them - he is so good with her.  We only got to spend the morning with him and his parents, though.  They left at noon to head to New Zealand for two weeks, to visit his other grandparents.  I miss him already, as I get to see him almost every day.

On Monday, I worked more on Step 6.  First I did the rows ofwith the dark 2 1/2" squares:

And thought I had finished all the ones with the neutral squares, but knew something was wrong because I had a bunch of QTS's left over.  It was time to leave the house to go to a friend's for Boxing Day dinner, so I couldn't look to see where I went wrong.

I had almost all day yesterday to sew - adding up to about 12 hours of time in my sewing room.  There are advantages to being single and having grown children! 
I put aside Step 6 for a bit, and worked on finishing up Step 2. 

Alex had helped me take off the paper on the first batch on Saturday, and I got the remaining 36 finished yesterday.  I also created a lovely pile of clippings I'm going to turn into some crumb blocks, then I'll toss the rest.

Once I figured out I didn't cut enough neutral squares (whoops!), I finished the last of the rows for Step 6 and put them aside for pressing. Before I press the piles, I decided to work on Step 3, and press those at the same time.  Tonight I started sewing together my first 185 pairs of tiny triangles, and then I cut out the remaining 165 pairs, plus a good stack of dark triangles so I can work on Step 5.  Maybe I'll be caught up by this coming weekend, if Step 7 isn't too onerous!

So, my recap is:
Step 1 - complete
Step 2 - complete
Step 3 - 185 pairs sewn, 165 to go
Step 4 - 14 triangles done, 114 to go
Step 5 - 12 done, 338 to go
Step 6 - 1 block done, 165 rows sewn.  Need to be pressed and assembled.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Orca Bay, Part 5 of ....?

It's on to the next step of Orca Bay, and I've decided to keep the name since I live on the West Coast of Canada, less than 100 km where orca pods J, K & L live year-round. I realize I am very fortunate in having seen these whales in their native environment many times. Once I find a picture I'll have to post it, but since I've had to restore my computer twice in the last month.

I tackled Step 5 in a small way, just a few to get the feel for cutting out the tiny triangles and adding them to my HSTs.

I'm rapidly running out of black, so I've dipped into my blue, brown and green drawers to find the very darkest shades to add - as long as it reads "dark", anything will work in my quilt! After doing about a dozen, I decided I better go back and finish Step One before I did any more on Steps 3 & 5.

Here are 310 QTS's (and a few to spare) ready for sewing on my mini design boards.  I might have shown these before - I got the tutorial from Lori Holt's website "Bee in my Bonnet", and have put them to good use!

Chain-piecing went fast, and a few leader/enders got sewn up as well!

Then the inevitable pressing began.  Thanks to one of the links on Bonnie's Monday linky-thingy, I learned to press them before cutting them apart - what a time-saver that is.

Next, pair them up so no two fabrics are the same and 155 pairs were laid out ready to sew.

But I had to take a break - my kids invited me to go to the Christmas Tree Farm with them - how could I turn down the opportunity to participate in my grandchildrens' first trip!  It turned out to be a decent day - mild and a peak of sunshine, with only a sprinkle of rain as we were about to leave.  Since Alex is going to New Zealand on Christmas Day with his parents to visit his paternal grandparents, he didn't get a tree but he helped Uncle Rob-Rob carry their tree to the truck!

Uncle Rob-Rob got his name a couple of years ago, when Alex was first learning to talk.  My daughters' friend's husband's name is Rob as well, and we quite often refer to the 'boys' as Rob, Rob and Ray (my other daughter's husband).  Alex starting calling each of the Robs Uncle Rob-Rob, and the name(s) have stuck!

Whoops, I forgot to turn this one!  After I got back to the house, I made up this panel apron and bonus potholders so I can bake cookies with Alex later this week. 

I finally got over my fear of free motion quilting and decided I couldn`t wreck these too badly, so I tackled it!  It was a lot easier than I thought, and I will definitely practice more. 

Then I got back to Orca Bay!

I`ve cut out 160 pairs for Step 3, only 160 to go, then 700 more triangles for the wings.  I also got the 224 quarter triangle squares sewn tonight, just need to press them and measure/trim and Step 1 will be done. 
Good thing I have a 4-day weekend coming up - 2 whole days after Christmas with no obligations so I plan on sewing and getting caught up!

Have a good week sewing - to see what every else has done with Orca Bay so far, check out Bonnie's linky-thingy (her technical term ;o) at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And then there were four (steps, that is!)

As Christmas is getting closer, it's tougher to get to the sewing room, but I've managed to get a few red string blocks done.  I am really loving these blocks - I also tried a couple of new things this week that I'll keep doing in the future.

First, I sewed the strings together to the full length of the first strip, except for the very last ones.

Then, I followed Bonnie's revised cutting instructions to cut the blocks in half first, then use the companion angle template to trim the triangles to size.

This one got sewn a little crooked, but I was able to fix it by trimming it after cutting it in half.

I also like this method because the paper blocks are a little larger then we needed, so I could adjust the trimming so the seams fell further away from the corners (this is one of the blocks I cut to size first before cutting in half).

It makes for 2 different looking triangles!

Don't they look pretty all lined up!

Making a crumb block was a lot easier with these trimmings - but I don't think they have as much character.  Check out everyone else's progess at Bonnie's Linky-thing at

Other things of note:

This was my view driving home from work the other day - the full moon rising over the local mountains.  The pointy one in the centre is Mt. Cheam, and it is only about 15 km from my home.

I have a collection of nativities, but last year I had to buy the Fisher-Price one for my grandson, Alex, to play with (and learn the Christmas story).  I have to set it up on his little table, because my dog likes to try to steal the little people (jealous, a little?)

And Zoey was mesmerized by the feel of the branches of the Christmas tree.  She didn't bother with the lights or the decorations, but kept reaching for the prickly branches.

Ouch, Gramma!

Monday, December 5, 2011

By the Third Week of the Mystery, Bonnie had me make:

350 Half-Square Triangles  (322 to go)

74 Little String Blocks (36 to go)

& 224 Hour-Glass Blocks (156 to go)!

The Twelve Days of Christmas kept going through my mind with these new verses!  I have a lovely pile of blue strings & crumbs building up, so I couldn't resist making a little (3 1/2") crumb block from the trimmings of my string blocks.  Not sure if I'll make more, but it is a great way to keep things out of my garbage can!

I'm thinking of my mystery quilt as a marathon, not a race, so as long as I plug away at each step until the next one comes along, I'll be happy for now. It's just so busy between work, getting ready for Christmas and playing with the little ones that I'm not going to stress over yet.